Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 811 pages of information about Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers.

[Footnote 24:  He did succeed at W.]

[Footnote 25:  A term signifying, in the Chippewa, my friend, but popularly used at the time to some extent at Detroit to denote an Indian.]

CHAPTER XIII.

My first winter at the foot of Lake Superior—­Copper mines—­White fish—­A poetic name for a fish—­Indian tale—­Polygamy—­A reminiscence—­Taking of Fort Niagara—­Mythological and allegorical tales among the aborigines—­Chippewa language—­Indian vowels—­A polite and a vulgar way of speaking the language—­Public worship—­Seclusion from the world.

1822. Oct. 1st.  Copper Mines of Lake Superior.—­On the 8th of May last, the Senate of the United States passed a resolution in these words:—­

Resolved, that the President of the United States be requested to communicate to the Senate, at the commencement of the next session of Congress, any information which may be in the possession of the government, derived from special agents or otherwise, showing the number, value, and position of the copper mines on the south shore of Lake Superior; the names of the Indian tribes who claim them; the practicability of extinguishing their title, and the probable advantage which may result to the Republic from the acquisition and working these mines.”

The resolution having been referred to me by the Secretary of War, I, this day, completed and transmitted a report on the subject, embracing the principal facts known respecting them, insisting on their value and importance, and warmly recommending their further exploration and working.[26]

[Footnote 26:  See Public Doc.  No. 365, 2d Sess., 17th Congress.]

4th.  White Fish Fishery.—­No place in America has been so highly celebrated as a locality for taking this really fine and delicious fish, as Saint Mary’s Falls, or the Sault,[27] as it is more generally and appropriately called.  This fish resorts here in vast numbers, and is in season after the autumnal equinox, and continues so till the ice begins to run.  It is worthy the attention of ichthyologists.  It is a remarkable, but not singular fact in its natural history, that it is perpetually found in the attitude of ascent at these falls.  It is taken only in the swift water at the foot of the last leap or descent.  Into this swift water the Indians push their canoes.  It requires great skill and dexterity for this.  The fishing canoe is of small size.  It is steered by a man in the stern.  The fisherman takes his stand in the bows, sometimes bestriding the light and frail vessel from gunwale to gunwale, having a scoop-net in his hands.  This net has a long slender handle, ten feet or more in length.  The net is made of strong twine, open at the top, like an entomologist’s.  When the canoe has been run into the uppermost rapids, and a school of fish is seen below or alongside, he dexterously puts down his net, and having swooped up

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